On 15th December 2022, teams from the USAID Uganda Economic Growth and Partnership Office visited Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST). The teams were represented and led by Ms. Jackie Batanda, USAID Mission Uganda Project Management Specialist (Partnerships), and Mr. Robert Bagyenda together with Ms. Kevin Namulembwa from the USAID Mission Economic Growth Office. This was a learning visit targeting the Batwa Livelihoods Innovation Challenge (BLIC) sub-awardee project on Employing integration of mutual aid groups and informal saving schemes to alleviate gender-based violence among the Batwa in Kanungu implemented under the Understanding the Marginalized Indigenous Batwa People of South-Western Uganda project, funded by USAID via the LASER PULSE programThe project is funded by USAID through LASER PULSE and the USAID Uganda Mission Regional Coordination Initiative (RCI), which engages local governments, local universities, researchers, and the private sector as partners in development. It is implemented in partnership with Purdue University, Makerere University – ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) in Kampala, and Gulu University Constituent College (GUCC) in Moroto, Uganda.

The sub-award is implemented by the MUST Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies in partnership with the Action for Batwa Empowerment Group (ABEG), a community-based organization located in Kanungu district, and LETA for Africa, a local NGO. The team lead for ABEG is Ms. Sylvia Kakunda. The implementing team presented their progress and activities for the ongoing project. The purpose of the meeting was to provide more information on the activities of the BLIC projects, with a specific focus on the aforementioned sub-award on gender-based violence among the Batwa in Kanungu. It also provided an opportunity to update the southwestern Uganda Regional Development Steering Committee on related activities under the BLIC initiative.

USAID visit photo
Meeting participants pose for a group photo in the university academic registrar’s boardroom 
 Photo Credit: John Mukundane (MUST)

This engagement was also attended by the Local Council V Chairperson Kisoro District Mr. Abel Bizimana, who also represented the Chairperson the Southwestern Uganda Regional Development Forum (SWRDF), the Dean and Deputy Dean of Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies, Dr. Rogers Bariyo and Dr. Cleophas Karooma, respectively, the team leader for the sub-award implemented by Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Trust (BMCT) , Mr. Phrase Kakuru, the University Public Relations Officer, Ms. Angela Nakato, and the MUST research team represented by Dr. Viola N Nyakato, Dr. Gad Ruzaaza and Ms. Faith Mugabi. Other participants who joined in this engagement were from Feed the Future Initiative.

Key highlights from the engagement

  • Embracing the role of universities and research institutions in USAID’s activity/ies implementation of future work packages and learning activities.
  • Science translation was visible in the partnership
  • The implementing team was advised to considering sustainable strategies for the mutual aid intervention by consideration attaching an affordable interest rate for the Mutual Aid fund and financial literacy training.

Look out for additional information on this work and participation from USAID in future LASER communications, and please reach out to the below contacts with any questions.

Project Co- Principal Investigator   Dr. Viola Nilah Nyakato, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies (FIS), University of Science and Technology (MUST) Email: vnyakato@must.ac.ug , 

RAN Director Communications and , Learning and Knowledge Management: Harriet Adong, Email: hadong@ranlab.org

Project Principal Investigator: Roy William Mayega, Deputy Chief of Party, Makerere University School of Public Health-ResilientAfrica Network (RAN), Email: rmayega@ranlab.org 

Project Co – Principal Investigator: Julius Ssentongo, Director Resilience Makerere University School of Public Health-ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) Email: jssentongo@ranlab.org 

By: Dr. Viola Nilah Nyakato, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies (FIS), University of Science and Technology (MUST), Uganda and Harriet Adong, RAN Director Communications, Learning and Knowledge Management.

Photography by John Mukundane (MUST).

By   ArticlesLASER PULSE BlogNews